China could 'make strategic response' if US deploys medium-range missiles in Japan
Published: Feb 06, 2023 10:40 PM
The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry launches a Tomahawk cruise missile from the ship's bow in the Mediterranean Sea in this U.S. Navy handout photo taken March 29, 2011. (Reuters Photo)

The guided-missile destroyer USS Barry launches a Tomahawk cruise missile from the ship's bow in the Mediterranean Sea in this U.S. Navy handout photo taken March 29, 2011. (Reuters Photo)

The US and Japan will discuss new weapons deployment, including medium-range missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles and long-range hypersonic weapons, in some Japanese islands close to China's Taiwan under the pretext of "defense", according to some media reports. Chinese military analysts warn that the plan poses a serious threat to regional countries including China, North Korea and Russia. China is right and capable of making a "strategic response" to counter the potential provocative act, they noted.   

The US has suggested deploying medium-range missiles in Japan as part of a plan to bolster "defenses against China" along the East and South China Seas, the Japanese media Sankei newspaper reported on Saturday, citing unidentified persons involved in US-Japan relations.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Monday that if the plan is eventually realized, that means the US intends to further damage regional peace and security, and it is actually planning military interventions to disrupt China's reunification process in the future. 

"New deployment of US missiles in Japan will not only pose a threat to China, but also to North Korea and Russia in the region. China is right to take strategic action to respond if such a provocative and dangerous act is made by the US," Song noted. 

The Tomahawk is a type of subsonic cruise missile, and different variants have different ranges, generally of around 2,000 kilometers, meaning that if deployed in Kyushu, the missile can cover not only the island of Taiwan and the East China Sea, but also the eastern coast of the Chinese mainland, a Beijing-based military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Monday.

While not yet in service, a number of hypersonic missile projects are underway in the US. They are characterized by their speeds of higher than Mach 5, and can pair up with the slower Tomahawks for various tactical purposes, including attacking targets in the Chinese mainland and amphibious landing forces of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), the expert said.

While Washington intends to deploy new weapons for US forces in Japan, Tokyo is also planning to purchase Tomahawk missiles from the US and is developing its own hypersonic missiles, according to media reports.

It reflects the US and Japan's obvious scheme to militarily contain China, and their intention to interfere in the Taiwan question by force, analysts said.

However, Japan must understand that the US is using it as a forward operating base, in other words, Japan is being used as a cannon fodder, the expert said. "If US forces in Japan and the Japan Self-Defense Force interfere in the Taiwan question, military installations from which attacks are launched on Japanese soil are bound to see resolute counterattacks from China," he said.

Song said if those weapons are deployed on those Japanese islands close to Taiwan, they will be easily targeted and destroyed because they have no way to run on those small islands, and missiles carried by the US and Japanese vessels will pose more of a threat during wartime. 

Japan is completely within attacking range of the PLA, as the PLA Navy and Air Force regularly holds patrols near Japan, and the PLA Rocket Force operates more advanced missiles, including the DF-17 hypersonic missile, the DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, the DF-10A subsonic cruise missile and the DF-100 supersonic cruise missile, observers said.